It is estimated, that each year in Europe some 700 m ton of anthropogenic minerals is arising, including 150 m ton of Coal Combustion Products, of which over 100 m ton is produced in 28 EU Member States, of which some 20 MT in Poland. Coal Combustion Products are subject to REACH Regulation, so they may be placed on markets as chemical substances governed by this law. They are mainly used as feedstock for the production of cement, binders and concrete, as well as aggregates and fillers in construction sector. Meeting the requirements of national or European standards related to particular applications is a key technical prerequisite for utilisation of Coal Combustion Products in material and product areas.
Saving natural resources, as well as rational and effective management of them is a direct goal and context of the Circular Economy. Coal Combustion Products may play a major role in this approach, also as the substances capable of upgrading other anthropogenic minerals into products. The long-term innovative approach is a characteristic principle of the Circular Economy and it necessitates starting now intense RD activities in the sphere of beneficiation of the anthropogenic minerals from power generation. Eventually all the anthropogenic minerals arising from combustion of coal for power generation should be utilized within the framework of respective material and product standards. Principal directions of utilisation of minerals from power generation, well recognised globally and nationally, should be commonplace. Further research and technical progress in terms of new directions is indispensable, and significant changes for the power producers may ensue. Significant reductions in emissions into the atmosphere – particularly CO2 – is yet another positive aspect of the use of anthropogenic minerals. Current regulations of the Waste Framework Directive cause the technically, economically and environmentally well-grounded industrial practices, applied to well characterised anthropogenic minerals, in practice to be seen as instances of recovery of waste, whereas the power sector should concentrate on waste prevention and manufacture materials and products from these minerals. The proposed circularity indicators developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the framework of preparations for implementing the idea of Circular Economy have focused on products manufacture. This approach have left outside the specifics of massive anthropogenic minerals in general, and those arising in coal based power generation in particular. The Warsaw University of Technology proposed their own model with specific indicators for anthropogenic minerals sector. The economic impacts and aspects are very important dimension of the approach indicated by the principles of the Circular Economy – and indeed are its target point. Without providing adequate and extensive educational support, the complex issues indicated above will not be implemented and maintained in the scale significant for the intentions expressed while presenting the Circular Economy package of solutions.